Have you ever tried to change an unhealthy behavior or a limiting belief by beating yourself with a stick?

You know what I’m talking about – when we treat ourselves like a bad child, we reprimand ourselves and berate ourselves for how badly we’ve done. Raking ourselves over the coals with our own harsh judgments. If you’ve ever tried to quit smoking or lose weight, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. 

What happens when we do this is we create a negative child-parent relationship within ourselves. We become the harsh authority figure we need to rebel against. Any progress we do make from this judgemental space within us is short-lived and unsustainable. We may successfully diet and exercise for a week, but we can’t sustain it because the ‘’child’’ wants to rebel against that authority figure we’ve created. We go back to our unhealthy eating habits and give up on exercise altogether. 

This happens because we’ve denied the part of ourselves that seeks comfort in unhealthy food. We’ve denied the part of ourselves that is looking for love and kindness. The part that is asking for ease and comfort. 

Now notice what happens when you reflect on the habit or belief you want to change from a place of understanding. More like the loving, supportive parent. Suddenly change becomes a bit easier to implement, once you understand why you were doing what you were doing in the first place. Once we approach ourselves in a kind way, change becomes a lot more possible. If you are kind to yourself and have a fallback, you don’t give up on your process or yourself, you understand that falling is part of the process and you make adjustments that you need to make, cheer yourself on, and get back up.

This was my experience with smoking. I had been a smoker for years and always wanted to quit. I would only get so far until another stressful sh*tuation would happen and I was back to it, pulling on a nicotine stick for my fix, to ease the tension and worry. Until I realized why I was smoking in the first place. I was getting a payoff from smoking, or that was the belief. Every time I would experience stress or worry, my cigarette would make me feel like I was experiencing relief (later I realized it was just the act of sitting outside and allowing myself to breathe deeply, that really brought that ease to me).

I lost count of how many times I heard myself say ‘’It’s my last one, I’m trying to quit”. I got tired of the cycle and thought I’d approach it from a different perspective. I got more curious about how my smoking habit was helping me survive, or what I believed my cigarette was doing for me. When I realized my smoking helped me get through so many stressful situations and really was a bit of a companion during those times, I started looking at myself and my habit with a kinder lens. 

I started smoking intentionally. I would roll my cigarette (yeah, I smoked rolling tobacco) and decide why I was smoking it before I would light up. I would also thank my freshly rolled smoke for having been a companion during tough times for so long. I would then light up with a commitment to my intention in mind. For the entire duration of my smoke break, I would keep my intention in my mind until I was done. That process lasted a few months and I found I smoked a lot less and eventually I didn’t need to smoke anymore. I never went back! 

What you can’t achieve with harshness, can be achieved with kindness!

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